Author: John Hammer

About John Hammer

Here are my most recent posts

Panhandling Ordinance Update: City Council Passes One, Rescinds Another

There was a very interesting moment at the end of a Monday, Aug. 6 hearing in the courthouse in downtown Greensboro. Guilford County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge John Craig had just finished hearing an appeal case – one brought by former Summerfield Town Councilmember Todd Rotruck in his attempt to get his council seat back – and the judge was ready to review the case in the coming days. Craig apologetically asked legal counsel from both sides if they had a copy of the case’s court record that he could have. He said the clerk of court’s office...

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Jeansboro Keeps Denim, Loses a Whole Lot More with VF Headquarters Move to Denver

Starting out the week with a sharp kick to the gut is tough, but that’s what Greensboro received on Monday, August 13, when it was announced the corporate headquarters for VF was moving from Greensboro to Denver. Denver reportedly offered an economic incentive of $27 million after VF approached them about moving. The move was evidently kept quiet, catching Greensboro off guard. Greensboro does get a consolation prize of sorts, in that the jeanswear division is being spun off into a new company and it will stay headquartered here. VF is a $13 billion a year company. The denim...

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Rhino Shorts: August 16, 2018

It was announced recently that every K-3 teacher in the state would be provided with a new iPad for the 2018 school year. Someone who is not familiar with politics in North Carolina might see this as a benefit to teachers. However, the decision was made by North Carolina School Superintendent Mark Johnson, who is a Republican, which means that according to mainstream media it is by definition a bad idea. The article in the News & Observer about the new iPads finds every negative thing you can think of about the deal. It does mention that the iPads are being bought with money that was allocated for teachers in 2016 but never spent. So it would seem that Johnson found $6 million that has been sitting in an account not helping anyone and decided to use the money to provide up-to-date technology for primary school teachers. How could this be a bad thing? According to the News & Observer, the money should have been given to the teachers for them to spend how they see fit. But the real issue is that since it is a Republican idea it is by definition bad. If Gov. Roy Cooper, who is a Democrat, had found $6 million lying around in some account and decided to do the same thing, the front page of the News & Observer would have huge...

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Under the Hammer: August 16, 2018

Finally FBI agent Peter Strzok was fired. It was beginning to appear that Strzok could do anything he wanted and would always have a job at the FBI. At least special prosecutor Robert Mueller had the decency to remove Strzok from his team when the text messages between Strzok and his lover FBI attorney Lisa Page were revealed to him. But the FBI did what federal bureaucracies do, they moved Strzok out of the public eye and hid him in the human resources department. Everyone knows that federal jobs are supposed to be for life, so evidently the idea of firing an agent for his behavior wasn’t considered. But it did seem like after the inspector general’s report was released to the public, and the American people had a much better idea of what Strzok had been doing, that for the sake of the agency he would have been terminated. It appears that Strzok was the go to guy for former FBI Director James Comey. If something needed to be done that wasn’t entirely ethical, it seems to have fallen into Strzok’s lap. How else did he end up being the lead investigator on the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and then the Trump investigation? Trump may make sense because Strzok was in counter intelligence and they were investigating Trump for colluding with the Russians. But the investigation of Hillary...

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Gore Puts on Lively Show

If you remember former Vice President Al Gore as the almost robotic politician who could put a room full of insomniacs to sleep with his droning monotone, you would have been shocked at his speech on Monday night, August 12, at Shiloh Baptist Church in Greensboro. I didn’t think I’d ever see Gore in front of an audience in a church shouting, “Hallelujah, praise God,” with his hands raised over his head, but I did. Gore was the featured speaker at the Mass Meeting on Ecological Devastation sponsored by the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for...

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Under the Hammer: August 9, 2018

I love mainstream media reporting. Even when the Democrats lose, they win. It is astounding how everything gets twisted in favor of the Democrats. Check out this headline from The Washington Post: “Ohio special election shows Democrats on the march – even if they don’t win Tuesday.” So it doesn’t matter whether the Democrats actually win or not, they still win. Except for one tiny little annoying fact: It does matter. The most obvious example is that even though according to the mainstream media Hillary Clinton deserved to win, should have won, could not possibly lose and won the popular vote, she is not president. Donald Trump who had no conceivable path to victory did win and is president while Hillary Clinton is now no more than a bitter older woman who is so depressed about not being president that she appeared in public wearing a housecoat. It’s only one small step to a bathrobe. It may be that it takes so much equipment now to keep Hillary Clinton upright that she needs to wear a housecoat to cover it all up. Really, she is never going to be president, so why not come clean about whatever health issues she has and be done with it. Healthy people do not suddenly just topple over, and they are able walk up one or two steps without having someone on either...

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Center on Homelessness Suing Greensboro Over Aggressive Panhandling Ordinance

On Wednesday, August 8, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty along with three individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the City of Greensboro alleging that the plaintiffs’ First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights were violated by the passage of the aggressive solicitation ordinance. The plaintiffs are being represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Aid of North Carolina. The City of Greensboro will likely hire an outside law firm to represent it. No one has been arrested or charged with violating the ordinance passed on July 24, but the plaintiffs are claiming that...

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After a Year in the Works, City Council Still Has Questions about Police Review Board

It appears that over a year after the idea was presented to the Greensboro City Council, a Criminal Justice Advisory Commission (CJAC) and new Police Community Review Board (PCRB) is likely to be appointed at the City Council meeting on August 21. The idea to radically change the PCRB, which hears complaints about the Greensboro Police Department, was presented to the City Council in July 2017. The City Council agreed it was a good idea but advised waiting until after the 2017 election to take it up. The members of the executive committee of the CJAC, David Sevier, Irving...

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Everyone Gets a Break Outside as Fire Alarm Empties City Council Chambers

At 6:38 p.m. during the middle of the Greensboro City Council meeting that began at 5:30 on Monday, August 6, the council, staff, journalists and others in attendance found themselves outside standing on the patio. The fire alarm in city hall went off during the meeting and before people were quite sure what was happening, everyone was quickly and efficiently escorted outside. No smoke, and no apparent danger, made it a nice jaunt outside to stand in the pleasant evening air. It was the first time in anyone’s memory that a City Council meeting had been interrupted by a...

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Rhino Shorts: August 9, 2018

The golf course at Sedgefield is reportedly in great shape coming up on the Wyndham Championship PGA tournament, beginning with a pro-am on Monday, August 13, and tournament play from Thursday, August 16 through Sunday, August 19. The course hasn’t lacked for water in the past two weeks. Hopefully the tropical weather will at least take a break for the week of the tournament. If we get evening thunderstorms every day like we’ve been having, you can expect – along with rain delays – low scores, because the greens will be incredibly soft. However it doesn’t take long for a golf course to dry out, so if the rain stops we should have a beautiful course in prime condition. ***** According to the Greensboro Planning Department, the population of Greensboro has topped 290,000, but not by much. It’s 290,222, which is a 7.9 percent increase over the 2010 census figure, which was 269,666. So Greensboro continues to grow at a sedate rate, but growing slowly is far better than shrinking slowly. ***** The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is an exclusive club, and now Mike Barber is a member. Former Greensboro city councilmember, former chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, former chairman of the State Licensing Board for General Contractors and current president of First Tee of the Triad, Barber has a long list of accomplishments....

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More Evidence of Legendary Downtown Underground River Found in Dixie Building Basement

Tuesday, July 31, the historic Dixie Building on South Elm Street was condemned by the city and evacuated, and South Elm between Market and Washington streets was closed down. February One Place, which runs beside the building, had already been closed for construction. By late Tuesday afternoon, the city had determined that the building was safe and it reopened on Wednesday, after the utilities were turned back on. The fact that water was pouring into the basement of the Dixie Building was reported by employees of Cincy’s Restaurant, which is street level on February One Place but on the...

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Rhino Shorts: August 2, 2018

There is nothing quite like doubling down on a mistake, but we did. Two weeks ago when Scott Yost wrote about the soil and water district supervisors race, he left out one of the nine candidates, Josh Myers. It’s a long list and we didn’t catch that – there were only eight names instead of nine. So Josh Myers, candidate for Guilford County soil and water district supervisor, contacted us and I promised Josh Myers that I would write a Rhino Short for last week’s paper noting that we had left Josh Myer’s name off the list and apologizing. I forgot. So last week there was no correction and Josh Myer’s name didn’t appear in the paper. So now I have to apologize to Josh Myers, candidate for soil and water district supervisor, twice – once for the original mistake and once for not promptly running the correction. With nine candidates in the race it’s easy for one to get overlooked, but just to make sure, Josh Myers is a candidate for soil and water district supervisor and the name Josh Myers will appear on your ballot in November. ***** The Wyndham Championship PGA tournament will be here in less than two weeks. It’s too early to make predictions about the weather, but it would be nice if we got all of this rain out of the way before...

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Under the Hammer: August 2, 2018

A long article in The New York Times last week catalogued the mistakes Trump is making in foreign policy according to foreign policy advisors for former presidents, including Barack Obama. Of course, they think Trump is doing everything wrong because he is doing the opposite of Obama, who was the president of appeasement. When Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used nerve gas on his own people, President Donald Trump’s response was quick and unequivocal. He ordered the facilities destroyed, and they were. While president, Obama had said that he would respond with force if Assad used gas on his own people, but equivocation was the order of the day. He was, then he wasn’t, then he was – under certain conditions – and finally he decided that if Assad were to turn over a couple of barrels of what it claimed to be nerve gas to its close ally Russia, Obama would consider that enough. When ISIS took over much of Iraq and Syria, Obama called them the jayvee team and barely got moving in time to prevent ISIS from taking Bagdad. It’s easy to forget that ISIS was within firing distance of the Baghdad airport when Obama was in charge of stopping them. Trump came into office, took the handcuffs off the military and ISIS has all but been defeated. Obama’s strategy with North Korea was what? Ask North...

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A Recycled Column

The City of Greensboro has a Communications and Marketing Department. It also has a Field Operations Department that is in charge of recycling. Maybe someone should introduce the two. Field operations does an amazing job of collecting garbage, recycling and yard waste, including leaves in the fall, but it’s not good at marketing. I doubt that the Communications and Marketing Department would be very good at collecting garbage, recycling and yard waste, but nobody expects it to. I received a news release from the Communications and Marketing Department last week about recycling. It tells me that the Field Operations Department is inspecting recycling containers and handing out tickets for people who put the wrong items in the recycling container. I imagine they are going to be really busy because the city does a horrible job of letting people know what they can and can’t recycle. For example, in this news release, wouldn’t it have been helpful, since we are all be threatened with tickets, to have a list of exactly what can and what can’t be recycled? The press release has a few items that can’t be recycled, but why not include a comprehensive list? Is it a secret? One reason for not including a list seems to be that the city isn’t exactly sure itself of what can and can’t be recycled. If you go to the recycling...

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Superior Court Judical Candidate Gets His Wish, Residency Challenge Kicked Upstairs

The Guilford County Board of Elections held a special meeting on Thursday, July 26 to consider a residency challenge for District Court Judge Mark Cummings, a candidate for the 18A Superior Court judge seat who is running against District Court Judge Lora Cubbage. Both candidates are Democrats. The seat is currently held by Superior Court Judge Patrice Hinnant, who is not running for reelection. After a long and confusing discussion, the board was deadlocked 2 to 2 on whether it had the jurisdiction to hold a hearing on the challenge. The Republicans on the board, Chairman Kathryn Lindley and...

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Greensboro City Council Finally Passes, Not One, But Two Panhandling Ordinances

The Greensboro City Council at its special meeting Tuesday, July 24, passed not one but two ordinances prohibiting aggressive panhandling. Since May 15, the city has had no ordinance dealing with panhandling and reports have been that aggressive panhandling has been growing more common. Without any ordinance governing panhandling and solicitation, the police cannot step in unless some other law is violated. Both ordinances passed by identical 5-to-4 votes with Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Justin Outling, Tammi Thurm, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Nancy Hoffmann voting in favor and Councilmembers Michelle Kennedy, Yvonne Johnson, Goldie Wells and Sharon Hightower voting...

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Special Meeting of NC State Legislature: Sneaky Business Yes, But Who Started It

The Republican state legislature is under attack from the mainstream media for meddling in the 2018 elections by holding a special meeting on Tuesday, July 24 and changing two election laws. Changing laws concerning elections in July before a November election could be called meddling, but one question that needs to be answered is who started meddling first. The big issue that caused the Republican leaders to call a special session is the six constitutional amendments on the ballot. Up until Tuesday, when the law was changed, the amendments commission made up of Democrat Attorney General Josh Stein, Democrat...

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Rhino Shorts: July 26, 2018

The LA Times finally got me back with an offer of six months for $5. Since I was paying $10 a month that’s a pretty good savings, but if I held out a little longer I could have gotten 12 weeks for 99 cents. I suppose I should have waited them out until they agreed to pay me 10 cents a week for reading the paper, but I caved too soon. I think it was all the stars and exclamation points in the ad that got me. One thing I’ve learned is that the LA Times has a far better marketing department than The New York Times. The LA Times kept sending me offers that were lower and lower. The New York Times bounces back and forth between 50 percent off and 75 percent off. Now, if you don’t go for 75 percent off on June 1, why do they think you’ll go for 50 percent off on June 8. Can you imagine looking at something on sale at a retail store and having the salesperson try that? “So you don’t want this shirt at 75 percent off. Well, what if I said you could have it for 50 percent off?” Who knows, maybe it would work, what with the failing educational system in this country and all. ***** Whenever I read about the economic impact of a proposed...

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Under the Hammer: July 26, 2018

I read every article I could find about the phone call that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen taped of Donald Trump. I read them looking mainly for one fact. How in the world did the FBI get it and how did it get released, because even President Trump has attorney client privilege? I finally Googled attorney-client privilege and found that Trump allowed it to be released. Doesn’t that seem like it should be in every article? It’s a big deal. Trump didn’t have to do it and Cohen couldn’t. The judge that went over the materials ruled that the recording fell under attorney-client privilege and couldn’t be used or released. It was Trump who gave permission for it to be made public. So nobody other than Cohen, the judge and the FBI agents who are so pure and holy that they get to review matters protected by attorney-client privilege knew that the tape existed. The reason that it is now public knowledge and the tape has been played by CNN is that Trump waived his attorney-client privilege and gave his permission to have it released. So when Trump’s current attorneys say that there is nothing on the tape that implicates Trump in any wrong doing, you have to think they really believe it because otherwise the tape would be sealed in a box and no one would have access...

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Council Approves Land Swap With Carroll For Eugene Street Parking Deck Project

As far as Greensboro building a parking deck on Eugene Street, it appears the third time is the charm. At the Tuesday, July 17 meeting in the Council Chambers, the Greensboro City Council approved a complicated land deal to buy 2.6 acres of land from Guilford County and trade some with Roy Carroll to provide the footprint needed to build a parking deck in the interior of the lot on Eugene Street, and then sell the remaining 1.7 acres of the land purchased from Guilford County to Carroll. Mayor Nancy Vaughan described this as “Plan C.” Plan A was...

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Draft of Panhandling Ordinances for July 24 City Council Meeting Released

Tuesday, July 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the Greensboro City Council Chambers is when the rubber meets the road for the city’s proposed panhandling ordinances. The City Council is holding a special meeting on this issue alone and drafts of the new ordinances have been released. Back in April, the Greensboro City Council rescinded the ordinance on panhandling that required panhandlers to have a permit and restricted the times and places people could panhandle.   The City Council planned to pass a new ordinance prohibiting aggressive solicitation but failed to approve it. So since April the city has had no...

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Drinking and Pedaling Coming to Downtown

I spend way too much of my time at Greensboro City Council meetings to be healthy. These days I wonder what I did when I was sitting there with a pen and pad and no internet. No email to read, no click bait sites to check out. It must have been awful, but fortunately I don’t have much memory of those days. However, at the Greensboro City Council meeting this week there was something that perked me up and, as it turned out, what I thought was the most interesting thing on the 63 item agenda was that the...

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Under the Hammer: July 19, 2018

Rewriting history is fun and allows people to make heroes into goats and goats into heroes. President Donald J. Trump is now being ravaged in the press for not being tough with Russia. Some people are verbally abusing Trump because Russia took Crimea and Trump didn’t do anything about it. When Russia took Crimea in 2014, Trump was a businessman in New York. The man who was president of the United States and commander in chief of the most powerful military in the world was Barack Obama. What did Obama do to aid Ukraine in its fight against Russia? Obama froze the US bank accounts of friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, many of whom didn’t have US bank accounts. But, because of Obama’s bold, decisive action, if these friends of Putin had suddenly decided they wanted to open a Christmas savings account at Wells Fargo, they would not have been able to do so, unless they were to put on a fake mustache and use a different name. Obama ignored an agreement between Ukraine and the US, Russia and the United Kingdom that Ukraine’s borders would be protected in return for Ukraine turning over its nuclear weapons. At the time, Ukraine had the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world. Ukraine kept its part of the agreement and surrendered its nuclear arsenal, but Russia, the US and the...

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Rhino Shorts: July 19, 2018

For those who have been following my saga with the Los Angeles Times online subscription, they finally came down to 10 cents a week, so I guess I’m going to sign up; $2 for 20 weeks is a pretty good deal, but it did make me wonder if that was their best offer. So I might give it a little more time. During our negotiations I have full access to the paper at no charge, so that’s hard to beat. ***** North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell has his work cut out for him trying to deal with the mess left behind by his predecessors. Folwell stopped by the Rhino Times world headquarters the other day and, although it’s always enjoyable to talk to Folwell, after he leaves I realize how far over my head he is. I’ve tried telling him to talk to me like I was a sixth grader, and that works for a while but then he lapses back into finance-speak. But I did glean a few facts that I’m fairly confident about from our conversation. North Carolina has one of the best-funded pensions in the country and it is still underfunded. Folwell said that one of the problems is that the figures are based on earning a 7.25 percent rate of return every year and it hasn’t earned 7.25 percent in the past 20 years....

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City of Greensboro Provoking Rocky Scarfone Once Again Over Downtown Parking Deck Deal

The word on the street is that the agreement signed in April between Rocky Scarfone, owner of the Cone Denim Entertainment Center and the N Club, and the City of Greensboro that allowed the construction of the parking deck and Westin Hotel project to move forward may be falling apart. After the city bought the parking lot behind Cone Denim Entertainment Center and announced it intended to build a six-story parking deck on the site with a 10-story Westin Hotel to be built over a portion of the city owned parking deck, it was discovered that Scarfone owned two...

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Greensboro City Council Only Wants to Tackle Feel-Good Issues

If you thought that since the budget was passed the Greensboro City Council was going to get to work on issues that matter – like economic development and jobs, two of the stated top priorities of this City Council – then you were wrong. This City Council appears determined to concentrate on feel-good issues. The good news is that there were only four speakers on the proposed panhandling ordinance on Tuesday, July 10, so it wasn’t a whole night of talk on homeless issues. Since the City Council has been listening to speakers and talking about the panhandling ordinance...

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Rhino Shorts: July 12, 2018

My best friend is not fond of the heat and is not an early riser, so we usually take walks late at night. It’s quiet, peaceful, cool, or at least cooler then it is during the day and, as long as you’re not scared of the dark, a great time to walk. The other night we came upon a car on a deserted stretch of road that was occupied. Although it was a while ago, I was young once and thought I knew what I was likely to see as we walked past, and I was right. I saw two young people fondling the object of their affection – something that at the moment they may have loved more than life itself. Yes, the young couple in the car each had their smart phone in hand and were furiously communicating their thoughts and desires with the rest of the world. Who knows, perhaps they were communicating with each other in the way they felt most comfortable. It made me wonder if the human race would endure. ***** I recently read a column about the grammar, or lack of same, Trump uses in his tweets. Grammarians hate to hear it, but writers came first and then the grammarians. Long before a single grammarian existed, people were speaking and writing. Much later grammarians came along and made up rules to define...

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Under the Hammer: July 12, 2018

The Republicans control the US House, the Senate, the White House and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is going to be far more conservative as soon as Judge Brett Kavanaugh gets approved by the Senate. So what is the response of the Democratic leadership? To send the crazies in their party out to publicly harass Republicans. It may get the crazies all fired up for the November election, but who the Democrats need to be going after are the moderates, and I don’t see someone who on occasion votes for a Republican impressed by crazy people screaming at Republicans for the crime of going out in public. I think it’s a bad strategy but probably not as bad as fully embracing congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She won her primary fair and square, so she should be congratulated and recognized by the Democratic Party, but most places in this country resemble Guilford County much more than they do the Bronx. Socialists may do well in the Bronx and in Vermont, but they don’t do well in the flyover states. The Democrats can either be satisfied with their enclaves in the Northeast and the West Coast or they can attempt to become a political force in this country again. It would be wonderful to see the Democratic Party fully embrace the socialist philosophy of Ocasio-Cortez, because that will doom them...

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NC Real ID Coming to a DMV Near You

The Real ID is really here. At the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 10, a presentation was given on the Real ID by Lisa Crawford of the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. She talked about what it is, what it isn’t and how to get one. The Real ID is the result of a pretty good compromise on a national identity card, and although you aren’t required to have one, if you travel or visit nuclear power sites regularly it will come in handy. The Real ID is another attempt by the federal government to make...

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What I Saw Out My Window

As a writer I spend a lot of time staring out the window. It comes with the territory. Something about writing makes any activity I can see other than my computer screen fascinating. Since I’m often the only one in the office that means I look out the window hoping to be distracted, and Sunday night I can’t say I got what I wished for because I wasn’t wishing that anyone would get shot, but I can say that I was distracted. In the Rhino Times World Headquarters building, my second floor office looks out on Friendly Avenue and Elon University Law School, so I keep track of all the activities in the alley, parking lot and on Friendly. If a car is going the wrong way up Friendly and I catch it out of the corner of my eye, I know something is wrong with the world even if I don’t know what it is at first. Sunday night, July 8, I was in my office looking out the window and heard some loud bangs. Since the Fourth of July was last week I thought someone was still celebrating, but I saw a white SUV stopped in the far right lane of Friendly with three young black men near it on the sidewalk. After the loud bangs the three men took off sprinting toward Greene Street and the...

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Homeless Union of Greensboro Wants Right To Live In City Parks And Make The World Their Toilet

Imagine Center City and LeBauer parks covered with tents, tarps and shelters made of cardboard, pallets and the like. Now add to that all the people living in those shelters urinating and defecating in the park and on the sidewalks and streets downtown. That is what the Homeless Union of Greensboro, which has been opposing the aggressive panhandling ordinance, is requesting. During the public forums on passing an ordinance against aggressive solicitation in Greensboro, many of the speakers who said they represented the Homeless Union, along with being opposed to any ordinance regulating panhandling, said they were in favor...

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Political Dirty Tricks Start Early

Although the November election is not on most people’s minds right now, the negative advertising and dirty politics have already started. A television commercial that ran on WFMY, WGHP and WXII wasn’t in favor of anyone but made serious accusations of impropriety against state Sen. Trudy Wade, Rep. Jon Hardister and Rep. John Faircloth, all from Guilford County. The commercial basically accuses them of selling their votes for campaign donations from Duke Energy. The commercial states that Wade, Hardister and Faircloth “voted to let Duke charge us to clean up their coal ash mess.” One problem with the commercial...

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Capital Gazette Feels Close to Home

The shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis last week hit home for those of us in the newspaper business. We are accustomed to covering and writing about shootings in other places, but the fact that a lone gunman walked into a newspaper office and killed five people makes you stop and think about your own safety. Any good newspaper deals with threats. People don’t like what was written about them or about an issue they care deeply about, some sue, some yell and scream, some write nasty posts on social media. Some threaten violence. Some get signs and march up and down the sidewalk in front of the newspaper office. But it is rare for threats to reach the level of violent deaths. In this case the shooter was a man that was upset about something written about him in 2011. He sued and lost his court case in 2013. I can’t even remember what I was writing about in 2011 or whom I might have offended. It’s an even scarier thought that someone would kill five people, most of whom had nothing to do with what was written about him seven years earlier. We have had our share of threats. When Jerry Bledsoe was writing the long series about the Greensboro Police Department, Cops in Black and White for The Rhinoceros Times, the FBI picked up...

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Rhino Shorts: July 5, 2018

The resignation of Alan Duncan as a member of the Guilford County Board of Education and as the Democratic at-large candidate for that seat creates an interesting dynamic. Maybe Republican at-large school board candidate Marc Ridgill knew something nobody else did when he filed to run. With Duncan as his opponent, Ridgill had almost no chance of winning, but as things stand now, Ridgill has to be considered the favorite because he’s the only one in the race. Ridgill is going to have an opponent, but it is up to the Executive Committee of the Guilford County Democratic Party to decide who that opponent will be, and whoever it is Ridgill still has a big head start. He’s been out and about shaking hands and drumming up support since last February when he filed, and whoever he runs against is going to have to make up some ground. The Democratic Party actually has two appointments to make. They need to appoint someone to finish out Duncan’s term and a candidate to run in the November election. It doesn’t have to be the same person, but it would make a lot more sense if it were. Being an incumbent even for a couple of months is an advantage in an election, but it’s late to be putting together a campaign for the November election. If the Democrats select someone without...

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Under the Hammer: July 5, 2018

Politics is so much fun. Hearing the Democrats howl that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should not allow President Donald Trump to appoint a new Supreme Court justice until after the November election, and presumably until after those elected take office in January, is funny. The reasoning is that McConnell refused to take a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia after his death in 2016. But McConnell is going to push through Trump’s nominee for exactly the same reason that he held up Obama’s nominee. The American people have given Republicans control of the US Senate and McConnell is going to use that political power to further the goals of the Republican Party. A very key goal is to gain a true conservative majority on the Supreme Court. If the shoe were on the other foot and Sen. Chuck Schumer was the majority leader instead of the minority leader, there would be no way under the sun that the Senate would take a vote on Trump’s nominee before the November election. According to our political system the majority has control. When Republicans complained bitterly about the fact that Obama wouldn’t negotiate with them, Obama said, “Elections have consequences.” It’s absolutely true. Obama was given a huge gift by the American people. Not simply electing him president but also electing a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in...

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Top Salaries from GSO’s State Universities

If you have read the salary issues for the past three weeks and think government salaries are high, you’ll be shocked this week because we are running the top 100 salaries for the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and North Carolina A&T State University. Not even Coliseum Director Matt Brown at $324,500, who is the highest paid employee of Greensboro, Guilford County and Guilford County Schools, makes as much as Dean James Ryan at UNCG who is second on that list at $363,213. UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam is paid $390,141 and UNCG recently bought him a new house, evidently because...

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City, Carroll and a Better Parking Deck Plan

It looks like Greensboro won’t be getting a new skyscraper this go round, but a parking deck, hotel, office, retail and more residential may be coming to Eugene Street – all beside each other instead of one on top of the other. The City of Greensboro and Roy Carroll (who owns this newspaper) have been going round and round on a parking deck deal on land Carroll owns on the corner of Bellemeade and Eugene streets across from the First National Bank Field. But it looks like they have come up with a plan that’s going to benefit Greensboro,...

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Greensboro City Council Institutes the Summer of the Panhandling Ordinance

Greensboro held five public forums in the past week, ostensibly to get input on a range of ordinances governing the use of public space such as food trucks, street performers and panhandlers. I attended three of the five and never heard food trucks or street performers mentioned. The discussion centered around an ordinance to prohibit aggressive panhandling. But even that was never discussed in any detail. No one talked about what should be included in an ordinance. It was almost all either totally opposed to any ordinance about panhandling or in favor of some ordinance prohibiting aggressive panhandling. Representatives...

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Rhino Shorts: June 28, 2018

The Democratic leadership is shocked that New York Congressman Joe Crowley lost the Democratic primary on Tuesday to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Crowley was the fourth ranking Democrat in the House and considered one of the contenders to become speaker if the Democrats win the House in the November election. It was a huge upset that reportedly nobody saw coming. What is amazing is not only that he lost but that everyone is so shocked by it. With all the money he had, certainly he was doing polling, so why should anybody be surprised unless the polls once again proved to be completely inaccurate in predicting the results of an election. You would think that after nearly every poll and pundit in the country picked Hillary Clinton to win, and some by a landslide, people would have learned that whatever pollsters once knew about the way people will vote is gone. ***** I subscribe to the News & Observer in Raleigh mainly because I want to know what’s going on in the state government. I received an email this week about the News & Observer’s coverage that stated they have five reporters dedicated to covering the state government. Compare that the News & Record that has no reporters dedicated to covering the state government. But that is not hard to understand when you realize that the News & Record also has...

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Under the Hammer: June 28, 2018

The Democrats keep losing political races. In 2016, their unbeatable candidate for president managed to snare defeat from the jaws of victory. But it wasn’t her fault – it was the fault of the awful people who voted for President Donald Trump who are all racist, misogynist, homophobic, redneck, naive, stupid, deplorable human beings. Those same deplorables went to the polls and voted for a whole bunch of Republicans who now control the federal government. The Democrats are in the minority in both houses of Congress. The Republicans not only control the White House but also control the Supreme Court, which makes awful decisions like finding that Trump as president has the same powers over immigration issues as other presidents. So the Democrats are out of power and, depending on who you believe, they may not make any significant gains in the midterm elections. Historically the Democrats should do well, but then historically Trump never should have been able to win. So the attacks on Republican deplorables have intensified. It’s a pretty broad indictment of a solid half of the American populous. Since the election, according to the Democrats Trump supporters have gotten only worse; now too often they are being called Nazis. It appears that Nazis are in favor of lower taxes and less government regulation of businesses and also in favor of having a US border. Back...

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Program Hopes to Cure Violence in GSO

Late Monday night, June 25, a press conference was scheduled for Tuesday to talk about the Cure Violence program as a response to the three homicides in Greensboro that day. C.J. Brinson led the press conference at the Prestige Barber College on Phillips Avenue. He began by saying, “Our community is experiencing some trying times.” He said, “We want to get ahead of the narrative of violence in the community. People ask, ‘How can black lives matter when black people are killing themselves?’” Brinson noted that intra-racial was violence high in all communities. He said, “Hispanics kill Hispanics. Asians...

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Guilford County Schools Salaries: 2017-2018

The Guilford County Board of Education deserves to be congratulated. While the salaries of other senior government executives in the area are rising at alarming rates, the Guilford County Schools superintendent hasn’t had a significant raise in 10 years. Much of the credit for that salary cap goes to former Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green, who refused to accept a raise from 2008 to 2015 when he was the Guilford County Schools superintendent. There aren’t many people out there who turn down raises from their boss every year but Green did. He could have easily been making $300,000...

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Greensboro City Council Kicks Panhandling Can Down the Road Again, Downtown Continues to Suffer

What the Greensboro City Council did on Tuesday, June 19, was agree on how to spend $543 million in the next year without any meaningful discussion. What the City Council didn’t do is causing problems that are only going to get worse the longer the City Council fails to act. What the council did was pass the 2018-2019 budget, which this City Council has never discussed and, except for increasing nonprofit funding, has had virtually no input. During the City Council two-day retreat in February, each councilmember was given two minutes to talk about their priorities and that was...

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Under the Hammer: June 21, 2018

Reading the report of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, it is obvious that Dr. Jill McCabe, the wife of fired FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe, was recruited by the Clinton machine to run for office and then showered with money to give the Clintons more influence at the FBI. The inspector general’s report documents Dr. McCabe’s brief political career. First Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe stops by the hospital where she works to meet her. Then McAuliffe invites her to the governor’s mansion to talk about running for office. While she is there he takes her to a speech in his limousine where he introduces her to the audience, then he takes her back to the governor’s mansion to talk further about running for office. It doesn’t make sense for McAuliffe to court someone so intensely who was not politically active to run for an office that he knew she couldn’t win. Then McAuliffe provides her campaign with $675,000 up front, which was 40 percent of the money she raised. He probably provided another large percentage through donors loyal to the Clintons from across the country. That is huge money to a novice running for a state Senate seat, but is chicken feed to the Clinton machine, so it probably didn’t take McAuliffe much effort to raise the money for her campaign. Then wonder of wonders, Andy McCabe, a...

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Rhino Shorts: June 14, 2018

New York Times best-selling author Jerry Bledsoe has a new book out. Bledsoe – who was a columnist for the Greensboro Daily News and then the News & Record, as well as The Charlotte Observer and the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal before he made the decision to leave newspapers behind and write true crime books – is not the most technologically advanced writer I know. But in this case Bledsoe is trying something new, and his book Do-Good Boy: An Unlikely Writer Confronts the ’60s and Other Indignities is only available in a digital format. So if you want a...

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2017-2018 Greensboro Employee Salaries

The 2018 City of Greensboro salary list has some changes at the top and bottom. Coliseum Director Matt Brown has been the highest paid city employee for years and, on Jan. 1, Brown received the largest raise of any city employee for the past year – raising him from the $288,445 he was paid in 2017 to $324,500 in 2018. That’s a raise of $36,055, and the result is that Brown is being paid $130,240 more than his boss, City Manager David Parrish, who is paid $194,260. The City Council has had several discussions on salary compression, which is...

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City Council’s Deep Dive into Greensboro Budget Lasts 16 Minutes

The Greensboro City Council held its in-depth discussion of the budget at its work session on Tuesday, June 12 in the Plaza Level Conference Room. The discussion lasted 16 minutes and most of it was not about the budget but about how to determine the funding for nonprofit organizations in the future. The City Council then spent 30 minutes discussing, once again, the Minority and Women Enterprise (MWBE) program and how to implement the recommendations from the new disparity study. The City Council discusses the MWBE program more than any other single topic, so spending twice as long discussing...

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Greensboro City Council Bill Gets Hung Up In Legislature While Coliseum Bill Sails Through

This is the tale of two bills. The first one requested by the Greensboro City Council could be titled, “How not to get a bill passed by the state legislature,” and the second, requested by Greensboro Coliseum Director Matt Brown, “How to get a bill passed.” Instead of paying a lobbyist $5,000 a month, the next time the City Council wants to get a bill through the legislature, somebody should call Brown and he can explain how to get it done. The councilmembers have repeatedly said that they want a revision made to the law creating the Police Community...

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Lunch with Rep. Ted Budd

One of the perks of being a journalist is you get to have fancy lunches with important people. So when Todd Poole, who works for 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, called and said they wanted to get together for lunch, I wondered if I was dressed appropriately. It turns out I was, because we had lunch at Yum Yum on Spring Garden Street. Budd had spent the morning with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson touring the area of east Greensboro damaged by the tornado on April 15. Budd said he had been in the area on April...

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Under the Hammer: June 14, 2018

When President Donald Trump called North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man” and said that his nuclear button was bigger than Kim’s and it worked, the mainstream media went ballistic and said that Trump was starting a nuclear war. The mainstream media also said that Kim would never come to the negotiating table with Trump after those insulting comments and that Kim might attack Guam. As late as last week, mainstream media pundits were saying that the meeting would never take place. Once again the mainstream media let their hatred of Trump get in the way of reporting the news. And Trump proved to the mainstream media that he knows way more about negotiating than they do. A couple of weeks ago when Trump cancelled the meeting in Singapore, the mainstream media said, we told you so; the meeting will never take place. Those whose eyes were not blinded by hate saw the cancellation as what it was – a negotiating tactic. Some of the statements out of North Korea had gone too far. Trump was sending a message loud and clear to Kim that he would meet but not if Kim’s goal was to humiliate him. Kim got the message and now Trump has done something no previous president has been able to do – he met with the leader of North Korea and they signed...

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